Make Maria Win.
Given that field of competion from all over the United States, it would have been a tall task in its own right, but somehow I felt strangely (overly) confident that we could pull it off. Things felt electric in the start when Maria lined up first, me directly behind her. When a rider looked around at the substantial field, freaked, pulled out and went to the back of the pack, I slid alongside Maria with Keri, Sara and Em directly behind.
Shrugged her shoulders.
We were off.
It was fast. Physical. I have bruises all alongside my left side and butt from people ramming in to me from the first 500 yards. I took an elbow to the ribs and a handlebar to the ass. I saw Maria having problems with her clips and all I could think about was hanging on.
I was entirely gassed.
On the descent I quickly saw there had been a crash: first a PRC jersey....it was Maria, multiple others, she sat on the side of the road, bikes literally strewn in the trees. When I passed at that speed I saw nothing but the bright blues of Maria's eyes, looking blankly at nothing as blood poured down her face.
Keri was there, as were others, and I couldn't tell if Keri was also down, injured, or helping but there was no way I could stop as there were still bikes on every side of me. I kept on. I yelled to Ben around the corner to help (and sent him running in the wrong direction...baby and my kid in tow). I jumped the speed bump at the bottom of the descent, narrowly missing someone in front of me as she lost control of her front wheel and nearly ate it. Around another corner I yelled to Kelli and Terry to summon help.
I climbed the hill with adreneline. By the time I made it to the bottom of the hill again, an official, a motorcyle and others were there to help. Then an ambulance. Emily was there with Maria. Keri.
I wanted to quit. I probably should have quit. I didn't. In the remaining laps, it became a game of sheer survival. Each climb became progressively more difficult, and I became less able to regain my composure post climb during the descent.
I strung together a series of tactical mistakes that killed me, finishing feeling a complete lack of fitness and confidence....not to mention, questioning the value of leaving my ego and possibly my body, out there on the pavement, my little boy cheering loudly just around the bend.
I have no doubt about her ability to rally from this, just as she rallied on behalf of our friend Doug. I just wonder how.
But in moments like these, you begin to wonder; if in the quest for these seconds of sanity....insanity draws us in, grabs ahold...and won't let go ...sometimes until it's too late.